September 11th, then and now…

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Where were you on that Tuesday morning, 15 years ago?

I was asleep, on a twin bed in Dallas with my toddler’s feet in my face  when my husband ran in yelling, “A plane just hit the World Trade Center, get up and come see!”  WHAT?

Barely 12 hours prior to being awakened like this I had been aboard an American Airlines international flight from Canada with the toddler, car seat, stroller, carry on and my brother, flying home to Dallas. My husband had picked up this traveling road show at DFW and after a week of sister, nephew, constant noise, chaos and cousins my brother fled home for some peace and quiet. I was stuck with the wild toddler who would not go to bed and had passed out with him in his big boy bed since the cage, I mean crib could no longer contain him. In my sleep deprived state, I thought my husband was talking about the WTC Dallas, a gigantic square building in the Dallas Market Center that in 1963 was hosting a luncheon for a President who never made the date.

As he swatted toddler feet out of my face and grabbed my arm we made it to the living room just in time to see another fire ball and Matt Lauer and Katie Couric questioning two women on the phone if they “saw a plane”.

They got another camera angle and we all saw the plane. It slammed right into the south tower below the smoke billowing out of the north tower. The fireball and paper rained all over Manhattan. My heart was pounding in my throat and I have no idea how long we just stood there in front of the TV, mouths hanging open. I felt sick.

Finally my husband said, “Well I better get to work?” I looked at him like he was crazy, “What? World War Three has just started and your going to work?” He looked back at me, “Well I don’t know what else to do. What are you going to do?” I didn’t know what to do either, what is protocol for the day when the world is coming to an end? I thought about it and said, “Um…. it’s Tuesday! Ladies bible study, I’m going to church?”

“okay?”

“okay?”

“love you”

“love you too, bye.”

I grabbed clean clothes, toddler, a quick breakfast and just like that we all headed out into a different world.

At church the ladies bible study groups turned into one gigantic prayer meeting as more news rolled in. TV’s were on and cell phones were streaming.  Wives of airline pilots and travelers who couldn’t reach their husbands were consoled. Another plane into the Pentagon, the PENTAGON?  The sky scrapers of downtown buildings across America were being evacuated. The glorious Twin Towers of New York disintegrated into piles of rubble and ashes. Federal buildings evacuated. My brother works in a federal building but I was able to reach him quickly and let my husband know he was safe. At the dealership they were all standing in front of the TV. Everyone was in shock. Yet another plane down in Pennsylvania that was reportedly headed to Washington D.C. It was surreal, a smoky bad dream.

 

I picked up the wild child from kiddy care and headed home. Even he was subdued. We were new to Dallas in 2001 and my method of navigation was to follow planes in the sky back towards DFW as a landmark. But the skies were already cleared of planes and eerily quiet.   We spent that afternoon sitting on the coffee table in front of the TV, crying as more buildings in the WTC complex collapsed. And that horrible noise, the beeping of firefighter personal safety alarms as more firefighters and police officers frantically searched for surviving brothers and civilians. I made American flag ribbons for my husband’s staff to wear and cried some more. Prayed  for survivors to be pulled out of the unbelievable carnage. Went back to church for a special prayer service for our country and watched the President’s speech there.

I pray to never sit on a coffee table crying in front of non stop news of destruction and death. I pray to never spend a week driving around lost because there are no airplanes to follow home. I pray to never feel that this is “it” fear, while I watch my toddler play, blissfully unaware that the world has ended.

But I do wish to have some of that September, return to us. 15 years ago we were all AMERICANS. No bickering over whose life mattered– ALL LIFE mattered.  Our police officers and first responders were cheered and praised for the amazing jobs they do, running in where we run out, not counting the cost. And so many, to many, paid for that dedication with their own lives. We showed them the respect they so rightly deserve. I wish the rest of the world was still trembling in fear, knowing that the full might of the amazing military of the United States of America was coming…. I miss seeing our beautiful flag waving from every house, every pole, a beacon of hope for people all over the world. Our flag was treated with dignity and respect and adorned far to many caskets as that September marched on. I miss the feeling of patriotism and community in our country as we celebrated our hero’s, mourned our losses, donated money, time and blood because we were one people, one nation, INDIVISABLE.

Looking at where we are this September, 15 years after that horrible day, I can honestly say there were many good things about that September. And I pray our country gets them back.

This post is dedicated to our all law enforcement officers and first responders.

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Books matter

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Books matter. They are vessels of knowledge but also friends. A good book is much more than company or entertainment. In times of hardship, I have pulled a beloved book off the shelf to read it again for the comfort it provided. I decided to share a few of my favorites with you today.

The Listener by Taylor Caldwell. I first discovered Taylor Caldwell when I was in the seventh grade. I was already an avid reader and The Captains and The Kings was a big fat paperback I found in the library. I figured it would occupy me and give me a good excuse to procrastinate in math class. I was swept away into the story and seven times I had to set the book down and have a good cry over the tragedy’s happening to these characters I came to dearly love. That is a good story and even better writing. Mrs. Caldwell was a master of her craft. She knocked out almost one novel a year from 1938 to 1980! You can’t go wrong reading any of them.  The Listener was published in 1960 and what is  amazing to me is even today we experience the same dark night of the soul that the characters in this book went through. Will you find yourself in this book? Will your soul resonate with the Betrayed or the Betrayer, the Doctor, Teacher or the Magdalene? And will you be changed when you meet The Man who Listens?

I hope you will read it and find out for yourself!

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, this is a 365 day devotional and a dear friend gave me the  leather-bound as a gift. What a gift it has been. These devotionals are short, sweet, simple, yet very deep and thoughtful. They remind me to “be still and know” and in our current harried and hurried world the thing I need most is to “be still”. This book is a gift in many ways.

How Al-Anon works for Friends and Families. This book may have actually saved my life. I did not go to my first meeting willingly, I was entrenched in denial, anger and fear. I knew if I could just figure out the magic formula I could FIX IT. The same friend who gave me the copy of Jesus Calling had cheerfully informed me that “if you don’t go to that meeting tonight I will come get you and duck tape your fanny to the bumper of my car and take you myself” One look in her eyes flashing blue lightning and I knew I better go. I did. I made a horse’s butt of myself ( a subject for a different post!) but I did decide to get some literature. And I went back. And I read this book.  My first trip through this book I cried so hard reading was slow and painful. But it was the first step on a healing journey that continues today. My second trip through this book was done with highlighters, note taking and willingness to learn. I remember setting the book down and taking a deep breath thinking, “whoever wrote this has been bugging my house for the past five years!”  I learned I was not alone,  and neither are you. No matter how bad your situation there is someone who has already lived it and if you want help– it’s out there. There are millions of people just waiting to share their experience, strength and hope with you. I am one of them. Get in touch!

Addictive Thinking  Understanding Self-Deception by Abraham J. Twerski M.D. Once I was on the road to recovery I took to heart the advice to learn all you can about addiction and this book curled my hair. But not in the way you may think. This book exposed the truth to me about my own addictive thinking and the compulsive destructive behavior coming out of my mind as I played my part on the merry-go-round . This book is not an “easy read” but if you want illumination this is it.

Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.  Have you ever though about what you are thinking about? Thoughts are powerful and if you are not thinking the right thoughts your actions will not be that great either. In AA and Al-Anon we call it “stinkin thinkin!” and it can be fixed. This is an amazing book, and after you read it you can get the workbook and work it! Like anything good– “it works if you work it!”  You CAN fix your thoughts on things that are good and true and lovely and THINK ON THESE THINGS! This book has been a life changer for millions of readers. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Dying for a Drink, what you and your family should know about alcoholism By Anderson Spickard Jr. M.D. and Barbara Thompson.   This book is a fascinating journey through Dr. Spickard’s medical career and his personal perceptions of the medical establishment’s treatment of addiction and the improvements that have been made. He co-wrote the updated edition with Barbara Thompson “to equip readers with the information, tools and confidence they need to participate in the recovery process.” (page 16 of Dying for a Drink) This book address’ all aspects of addiction, the scientific, spiritual and cultural. It address’ the family aspect of the disease in several chapters devoted to family recovery down to an appendix that is a “Letter to Grandchildren”.  Even though I was working a program and getting my co dependent issues under control I was not at a place of forgiveness or understanding until I read this book. Dr. Spickard quotes a female alcoholic who describes with eloquence what she goes through physically and mentally when she is craving alcohol. It is shocking and will move you from anger to a place of compassion. That is when you start to heal, when you can feel compassion for someone who is suffering.

These are all great books, fixtures on my shelf and my life. BUT– if I were marooned on a desert island and along with my hunting knife and lip gloss, ( I go no where without lip gloss. Period. The end!) and I could only have ONE book– I would have to have my bible. It is THE BOOK. Everything I need is in there, poetry, drama, history, instructions, love story’s, wars, recipes,  prophecy, tragedy and hope. Mostly hope. Lot’s of hope. It’s always the best read!

I would love to hear from you. What books have made a difference in your life? What’s on your bookshelf now? Feel free to leave me a comment or drop an email and join the discussion. Till next time– Alana

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